Cape Town – TLC inspires follows the personal journeys of ordinary people who have overcome struggles and difficulties.
First Heartbeat which premieres tonight on TLC (DStv 172) tells the story of a British couple’s heart-breaking struggle to overcome successive miscarriages in order to have a successful pregnancy and healthy baby.
Journalist, Lisa Francesca Nand and husband, David Kirk made a personal and touching documentary of their journey through miscarriage.
We spoke to Lisa about her decision to tell her story and the challenges she faced when she turned the camera on herself.
Your story is very personal, why did you decide to document it?
After I had my third miscarriage, a very painful physical and emotional experience at 12 weeks pregnant, I went headlong into research really to try to find out why miscarriages happen and more importantly could I help prevent it from happening again and I was surprised to find a certain lack of support out there. Surprisingly I found my best source of research was from other woman who I started talking to on parenting websites. People rarely talk about the mechanics of miscarriage and in films and on TV you don’t get a sense of how physically shocking it can be. This being my third lost baby I worried something was seriously wrong. Feeling that someone needed to talk about this more openly I decided to film my journey. The documentary charts my research, meeting the experts, eventual treatment, more miscarriages and eventually having our two lovely babies.
Is it difficult to tell your story on a platform like this?
I have to be honest. I initially set out to make a different documentary than the one I eventually put together. As a journalist my natural instinct was to be all investigative about it; interviewing the experts and focusing on the detail. As an aside to this I began to film my experience and as the weeks went by the camera became more a friend, something to confide in. It was this eventual emotional and uplifting footage that then became the documentary.
What did you find most challenging during filming your story?
My husband David wasn’t initially on board with filming so I felt bad about that at first. I went ahead anyway as I knew it was a story that had to be told for those of us who feel we are suffering alone. There’s something about miscarriage that makes you feel the wider world wants you to suffer in silence at home. Well in my experience that doesn’t really help any of us. Why not talk about this grief, like any other, if you want to? David felt that suddenly being cameraman reduced his role even further whilst for me this new purpose of recording our findings for the benefit of others kept me going. So I was really surprised when I looked back at the footage I found David had, without me knowing, filmed one of the most poignant parts of the documentary. Having just dropped me off at the hospital for an operation to remove another miscarried baby, his contribution gives a rare glimpse into a man’s perspective on miscarriage, is a valuable part of the documentary.
What has viewer response been like to your story?
The response to the documentary has been incredible, I really think it shows that people want to talk about miscarriage and that finally it is the right time to do so. When the documentary was first broadcast on TLC in the UK, #FirstHeartbeat trended on twitter for two whole hours. For a ground-breaking film like this that was unprecedented. I worried at first that people might not want to watch it as miscarriage is, let’s face it, rather a sad subject. But the documentary is surprisingly uplifting and the response from people who have been through this has been universally positive. I get people contacting me online all the same to say thank you for opening up this conversation. Grandmothers have spoken to their adult daughters about miscarriage for the first time. It’s exactly the response we wanted and more.
If you had to go back, would you choose to do this again?
I would make the documentary again ten times over if I could help just one person feel like they were not alone when going through the awful and sometimes life-changing experience of miscarriage. The grief of miscarriage is really something we need to acknowledge more. It’s so common, but that doesn’t lessen the impact on people’s lives. I hope that people watching this film will also be able to take a new understanding of the impact of miscarriage - the physical, the emotional, how it affects relationships not just between you and your partner but in your wider circle of friends and family. Most of all I want people to know they are not alone.
Watch the trailer here:
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Catch First Heartbeat tonight at 20:55 on TLC (DStv 172).
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